As I mentioned, my pals threw a 50s/Eames party last weekend and asked me to make a few delectable retro desserts. I totally jumped at the chance and set to researching what people ate at these cocktail parties of yore. I could only think of savories – canapes, pigs-in-a-blanket, anything with liquor. I pored over vintage cookbook sites, asked my parents, but I just couldn’t think of anything of that era that would be both delicious and interesting to make. And then it hit me… Jell-O! And not just any Jell-O, but a Jell-O mold!

I had never made a Jell-O mold before, partly because why would I and partly because I don’t actually like Jell-O… I have textural issues with it. So I did a little internet sleuthing and came upon this ingenious site done by an ingenious Brooklyn gal with a real talent for whipping up supercool Jell-O mold concoctions. And that’s when I saw it. The most perfect Jell-O recipe I’d ever encountered… Champagne w/ Strawberries Jell-O!!!

Yes, you read that correctly, champers! My old friend who’s gotten me through both hard times and celebratory times. I couldn’t wait to begin…

I started out with 2 packets of Knox Gelatine (which has proved to be a marvelous stock item in my pantry)…

Added 2 cups boiling water…

And 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar. It’s probably best to use white sugar rather than organic/natural sugar – it keeps the colors true and non-muddy. I’ve learned this the hard way… soooo many times!

Stirred it all up for a couple of minutes until the gelatin was completely dissolved. This is important because you want the texture of the Jell-O to be completely smooth & beautiful. Then it was time for the magic… the champers! The recipe calls for a total of 1.5 cups of liquid and you can break that up any way you want. I went with 1 cup champers and 1/2 cup ginger ale. You want to use a sweet champagne/sparkling wine – I went with my good ol’ cheap stand-by… Andre… at a whopping $3.99 a bottle.

Then I popped it into the freezer to gel (not set). I wasn’t sure how long this would take, so I checked it every 10 minutes. It took about half an hour. I think that once the gelling process gets started, it moves pretty quickly, so you’ve gotta pay attention. If the Jell-O is too liquidy, anything you add (fruit, various floatable items) will sink and if the Jell-O sets, the fruit won’t incorporate, which just won’t do.

While the Jell-O was gellin’, I set to work on the strawberries…

Washed and sliced them to my liking and then set them aside.

Soon the Jell-O was gelled enough, so it was time to get down to business. Took out my new/vintage bundt pan…

My pan has nonstick coating (which is great), but for a regular mold, you’ll probably want to grease the inside of the mold a little.

Then I just stirred the sliced strawberries into the gelled Jell-O. This part was so satisfying because up until that point, the Jell-O just looked like a stagnant puddle of nondescript. But as I stirred in the fruit, the bubbles from the champagne and ginger ale came alive and the whole thing was replete with tiny bubbles of joy! Huzzah, I exclaimed, as I spooned the mixture into the mold…

And much to my surprise, it actually looked kind of appetizing!

Wrapped it tightly and popped it into the fridge to set overnight.

Because I’m a little neurotic and not entirely confident regarding my Jell-O mold-making skillz, I did a test unmold the next morning. I was concerned that I had let the Jell-O gel too long before adding the strawberries and that it wouldn’t mold correctly. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and it looked pretty good! I miraculously got it back into the mold and put it back into the fridge until partytime.

Had I been smart about this, I would have taken a piccie of the unmolded masterpiece then, in the morning light, but I was so relieved that I hadn’t completely fucked it up, that I spaced. So please enjoy this horrendous cellphone piccie from mid-party…

Champagne & Strawberries Jell-O!

Recipe adapted from The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn

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